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kcm 016Farmland prices hit yet another record high in the South East during the final six months of 2013, having jumped over ten percent in the space of a year, says the latest RICS/RAU Rural Land Market Survey H2 2013.

During the second half of last year, the average cost of farmland in the region rose to £7,750 per acre*, hitting a record high for the eighth consecutive period. The cost of land is now 10.7 percent higher than during the same period in 2012 when an acre cost, on average, £7,000.

Growth in prices has been driven by the on-going surge in demand from farmers looking to expand their operations, while the amount of land coming up for sale is continuing to lag well behind, with the shortage being seen across the board. However, with many areas such as the Thames Valley having been subject to severe flooding in recent weeks, it remains to be seen what impact this will have on the price and saleability of farmland in some areas.

Despite remaining unchanged on the first half of the year, prices in the North West were the highest in Great Britain with the cost of an acre coming in at £8,813. Meanwhile, land north of the border, in Scotland, was the least expensive with an acre costing around £3,750.

Looking ahead, chartered surveyors are predicting prices to continue to rise over the coming year, given the significant supply-demand imbalance. That said, with floods having swept across the country, markets in the southern regions could well be significantly affected in terms of both transactions and prices.

Jeremy Blackburn, RICS Head of UK Policy, commented:
“Farmland price growth has been enormous in recent years. With commodity prices now having remained strong for some time, many farmers have been looking to expand their businesses and, with so little actually coming up for sale, competition for good land is fierce.

“Although, with floods having devastated large swathes of southern England, what remains to be seen is the impact this has on the market in these areas and further afield. It will not be surprising to see this have a negative effect on transactions. In fact, a lot of the best quality and highest value agricultural land in the UK is located close to rivers and on floodplains so this too could potentially have an impact on food production.”

See the report HERE

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Lions 1Night-flying Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance is appealing for runners, swimmers and cyclists to sign up for this year’s Tonbridge Lions Triathlon and help save lives 24 hours a day.

Lions Clubs across the South East have pledged to raise £250,000 for the Marden-based charity over the next 10 years.

The funds will be a significant contribution towards the additional £1million-a-year needed to provide a 24-hour service which was launched last month (December 18th).

The triathlon is to be held on May 5th at Tonbridge School’s sports complex which was used by the Australian Olympic team as a training base for the London 2012 games.

Competitors can choose a sprint consisting of a 400-metre swim, 25km ride and 5km run or the standard route which is double the distance.

Triathlon chairman Tom Simmons said: “This is the second year the Tonbridge Lions Club has arranged for the Tonbridge Triathlon to be linked up with Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance.

“We once again welcome the opportunity to be able to offer the means for the general public to take part in the triathlon and also raise funds for this much-loved and vital charity.

“The Air Ambulance needs approximately £6m each year to maintain their service in the counties and provide 24- hour cover. The pilots, doctors and paramedics are extremely dedicated to their task and deserve all our support.”

Tonbridge was the first Lions club launched in the UK in 1949 and has raised more than £275,000 for charity in the last 10 years. The triathlon alone has raised more than £125,000 over 24 years and organisers are aiming to raise a total of £13,000 from this year’s event.

There are 500 places available with an entry fee of £46 for the standard distance, £42 for teams of three and £39 for the sprint. To book a place go to www.tonbridgelions.co.uk or call 07549 949615.

main copy.qxdHouse prices in the South East will see an increase of seven percent over the course of next year while the cost of renting a home should rise by a further two percent. This growth is being driven by the acute imbalance between burgeoning buyer demand and sluggish supply with new instructions to estate agents close to stagnating.

Although significant challenges remain to achieving a sustainable economic recovery, 2014 may well see the nascent pick-up in activity gather pace and this will be reflected in the housing market. In addition to rising prices, the number of transactions should also see a further increase, moving up to 1.2m (from 1.05m in 2013). Although this represents an improvement, to put this in context, total sales in 2006 were well above this at 1.67m.

With the shortage of homes coming onto the market a key factor behind the price rises, some comfort may be drawn from a likely twenty percent jump in new starts in England over the next year. That would push the total towards the 155,000 mark compared to 125,000 this year and only around 100,000 in 2012. While this is an encouraging trend, it is still insufficient to address the more rapid growth in population and will leave significant shortfalls in all tenures.

Across the UK, all parts of the country should see prices rise next year. Predictably, the biggest increases are to be seen in the capital, where the cost of a home will jump by around eleven percent. It remains to be seen what impact the recently announced increase in capital gains tax for overseas vendors will have on the prime central London market.

Meanwhile, the North East and Northern Ireland will experience the lowest rises with prices increasing by five percent and four percent respectively.

2014 UK housing market at a glance

UK REGION GROWTH

East of England ——————10
East Midlands———————10
London—————————-11
North East————————-5
Northern Ireland——————-4
North West————————-7
Scotland—————————7
South East————————-7
South West————————-7
Wales——————————7
West Midlands———————-7
Yorkshire and Humberside———–7
UK———————————8

• Cost of renting to grow by two percent
• Transactions to increase to 1.2 million
• Housing starts to edge up to 150,000 in England

Peter Bolton King, RICS Global Residential Director, commented:
“The cost of a house is now picking-up right across the country and next year should see more of the same. We expect all areas of the country to see prices increase with London, predictably, recording the biggest rises. The improving economic picture aside, this is largely down to the fact that buyer numbers considerably outweigh the amount of homes on the market. While the number of new homes being built is now on the rise, it still won’t be anywhere near enough to meet demand and we expect the problem of insufficient housing stock to be the main driver behind price increases over the next twelve months.”

trainThe rail industry’s powers to increase fares are being curbed as part of the Government’s drive to cut the cost of living and overhaul the existing rail fare system.

The ability of train operators to add an additional five per cent to some individual fares, as long as the average rise of regulated fares is maintained at one per cent above inflation, is being limited to just two per cent as part of the Government’s Fares and Ticketing review published today by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

As well curbing the rise in fares, the review opens the door for future innovations such as the end of paper tickets, a code of conduct for train companies to give passengers the confidence that they are getting the best deal for their journey, and a flexible approach to season tickets which could benefit part-time workers.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “By capping fares we are protecting passengers from large rises at a time when family incomes are already being squeezed. We will need to wait for the rail industry to calculate individual ticket prices for next year, but this cap could save some commuters as much as £200 a year.

“Alongside this, the Government is investing over £16bn to transform our rail network, which will make sure we can respond to increasing passenger demand and drive forward economic growth that will help strengthen our economy.”

The Fares and Ticketing Review sets out the Government’s vision for a modern, customer-focused fares and ticketing system aimed at encouraging even more people to travel by rail and ensuring they have a better experience.

In addition to the limit on the maximum increase in regulated fares, the review includes a range of further measures:

• A Ticketing Code of Practice. The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) will oversee the code to ensure that passengers are provided with the information they need to choose the best ticket for their journey and that this information is clear and not misleading.

• Ticket Offices. A strengthening of the rules around how train companies alter opening times at station ticket offices. The Government’s intention is that passenger representative bodies can play a greater role in shaping any changes and ensure that appropriate passenger safeguards are also put in place.

• Flexible Ticketing. The Government is committed to introducing more ’touch in – touch out’ rail tickets across the network which could mean part-time workers receive a discount on season tickets for travelling 3 days rather than 5 or for travelling earlier or later. The Department for Transport’s £45 million South East Flexible Ticketing programme will pilot many of these innovations next year.

• Market Review. The ORR will look into the sale of tickets and consider whether current markets are operating efficiently, effectively, and in the best interests of passengers and taxpayers. The Department has committed to consider any cost-effective recommendations that come out of the review.

• Annual Surveys. ATOC has agreed to release information to customers from next year on how well ticket office staff, ticket machines, and websites perform in regards to selling passengers the best ticket for their journey.

• Single Leg Pricing. The DfT is planning a pilot scheme which will allow passengers to more easily ‘mix and match’ each ticket type when planning a return journey, giving passengers extra confidence that they are getting the best deal on their journeys.

The Fares and Ticketing review can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/rail-fares-and-ticketing-review

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s Written Ministerial Statement on the Fares and Ticketing Review: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/fares-and-ticketing-review

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s speech to the Rail Industry following the Fares and Ticketing Review: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/fares-and-ticketing-review–2

Press release from the TUC

TAXNearly one in four council housing tenants affected by the bedroom tax in areas across the South East have fallen behind on their rent since its introduction earlier this year, according to new figures released today (Thursday) by False Economy.

Figures provided by 19 local authorities across the South East in response to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by False Economy show that since the bedroom tax was introduced this April, more than 2,000 council housing tenants – 23 per cent of all tenants affected by the tax in these areas – have been pushed into arrears. Read More

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